OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Black and Latino leaders from across California, including U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, gathered during a virtual news conference Monday to express their concerns over Proposition 22 on the state’s Nov. 3 ballot.

If passed, the measure would allow ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to continue classifying drivers as independent contractors, not employees.

The speakers at Monday’s event said Prop 22 would only worsen racial and income inequality in California by enabling companies like Uber and Lyft to exploit their predominantly non-white workforce. Companies would not be required to pay drivers minimum wage, sick leave, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation insurance.

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“This is just audacious, what these companies are doing,” said Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. “The 78 percent of drivers that come from communities of color are struggling to make ends meet. We know that this is true, and yet [these companies] want to lock in low wages forever.”

Speakers pointed out that Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart have collectively spent $185 million on advertising calling for Prop 22 to be passed. Cherri Murphy, an Oakland-based driver and organizer, said that the Yes on 22 campaign is disingenuous and ignores actual concerns of drivers.

“I know what it’s like to work long hours with no guaranteed wages, no work breaks, no restrooms. I know what it’s like to have the looming threat of an accident with no coverage, and deactivation based on race,” she said. “We should not allow corporations to buy labor laws while they continuously exploit their workers.”

If Prop 22 were passed, it would require a seven-eighths majority vote by the state Legislature to amend. According to Murphy, the proposition would leave workers without protections and benefits for years to come.

“A lot of us know how difficult it was to remove Trump via impeachment. Now imagine — if two-thirds seems like a high threshold for a congressional body, to remove or change something, what about seven-eighths?” she said. “That alone should deter people from voting yes on Proposition 22.”

The campaign in support of Prop 22 held its own event Monday, with the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving announcing its support for the proposition, saying ride-hailing services have helped to reduce drunk and drugged driving around the state.

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